Mary Mosiman still distancing herself from oversight failure

State Auditor Mary Mosiman continues to defend her failure to ask tough questions as an ex officio member of the board that was supposed to oversee the scandal-plagued Iowa Communications Network.

Mosiman had a spotty attendance record for meetings of the Iowa Telecommunications and Technology Commission, which didn’t notice “misspending, cronyism and self-dealing” at ICN for years. Whistleblowers came forward last summer, prompting a special investigation that led to the firing of three top officials.

During a recent meeting with state lawmakers, Mosiman contended she had no reason to believe the ICN was being mismanaged and indicated she didn’t see her board role as relevant to her job as state auditor. She also revealed she hadn’t been aware that voting members were paid to serve on the technology commission, even though their salaries were written into Iowa Code.

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Mary Mosiman hasn't grasped what she's up against

“Great article written by the Des Moines Register!” State Auditor Mary Mosiman tweeted on January 19, along with a link to a story by William Petroski about a video her office created to help city elected officials spot and prevent financial misconduct. “We have been working hard and I am excited to share what we have been up to.”

Later the same morning, Democratic state auditor candidate Rob Sand argued that Mosiman could have stopped theft and malfeasance by Ric Lumbard, former executive director of the Iowa Communications Network. A State Auditor’s report released on January 18 identified “$379,547.65 of improper disbursements and undeposited collections,” prompting the firing of Lumbard and two aides. Upon further investigation, Sand found that Mosiman was absent more often than any other member of the Iowa Telecommunications & Technology Committee, which is supposed to oversee the state broadband network’s management. When she was present, Mosiman “barely participated,” asking just three questions in four years of meetings.

It was the latest sign that Mosiman’s work will face far more scrutiny during this year’s campaign than she has experienced since being appointed to the job in 2013.

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"We have to wake the watchdog up": Why Rob Sand's running for state auditor

The state auditor of Iowa is not a “sexy office,” former Assistant Attorney General Rob Sand told me earlier this fall. “But it’s a huge opportunity for public service, because I think that the way that it’s run right now, there’s a lot of low-hanging fruit for improvement.”

Sand kicked off his candidacy this morning with a website and Facebook page. He’s been tweeting for some time at @RobSandIA. His opening video is here. At the end of this post I’ve enclosed Sand’s campaign committee, including activists and elected officials from many parts of the state as well as Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller and former Attorney General Bonnie Campbell.

Sand discussed with Bleeding Heartland how he would approach the job and why he is running against Republican incumbent Mary Mosiman, a certified public accountant who has served as state auditor since 2013. Although this office is not the obvious choice for an attorney, Sand considers his experience prosecuting white-collar crime “my biggest qualification” and a key reason he could improve on Mosiman’s work. Moreover, he’s not afraid to call out a “historically irresponsible” state budget.

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2014 election results discussion thread

Polls across Iowa close in just a few minutes, and I’ll be updating this post with results throughout the evening. Any comments about any of today’s races, in Iowa or elsewhere, are welcome in this thread.

Many races on the east coast and in the Midwest have already been called. As expected, Republicans picked up the U.S. Senate seats in West Virginia, Arkansas, and South Dakota. Louisiana will go to a runoff in December. Jeanne Shaheen held the New Hampshire Senate seat for Democrats, but Kay Hagan may be in trouble in North Carolina, and in a potentially stunning upset, Mark Warner is behind in Virginia. He needs a strong turnout in the DC suburbs.

As state-level results come in, these are the key Iowa Senate races to watch, and these are the key Iowa House races to watch. For the last four years, Democrats have held a 26-24 Iowa Senate majority. For the last two years, Republicans have held a 53-47 Iowa House majority.

UPDATE: Polls are closed and further updates will be after the jump. News organizations called the governor’s race for Terry Branstad immediately.  

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Election day links and discussion thread

Happy election day to the Bleeding Heartland community. The weather forecast looks good for most parts of Iowa. Polls are open everywhere from 7 am to 9 pm. It’s too late to mail absentee ballots, but you can still hand-deliver completed absentee ballots to your county auditor’s office, or “surrender” you ballot at your regular polling place, then vote with an ordinary ballot.

Three new polls of the U.S. Senate race came out on Monday. Quinnipiac found Bruce Braley and Joni Ernst tied at 47 percent. (That pollster’s previous Iowa survey had Ernst leading by 49 percent to 45 percent.) Fox News found Ernst ahead by 45 percent to 44 percent. Public Policy Polling found Ernst ahead by 48 percent to 45 percent.

All three polls confirmed my belief that the Des Moines Register’s Iowa poll by Selzer & Co was an outlier. No other survey has found Ernst above 50 percent or ahead by such a large margin. If she does win the IA-Sen race by 7 points, I will declare Ann Selzer a polling genius.

Incidentally, the new polls also found Governor Terry Branstad ahead of Democratic challenger Jack Hatch by a smaller margin than in the Register’s final Iowa poll. Quinnipiac found Branstad ahead by 52 percent to 41 percent. That was similar to Public Policy Polling’s finding of Branstad at 54 percent and Hatch at 43 percent. Fox News found a bigger lead for the governor: 53 percent to 36 percent.

PPP has been the only firm to consistently poll down-ballot statewide races in Iowa this year. Its final poll found Democrat Brad Anderson ahead in the secretary of state race, with 44 percent support to 38 percent to Paul Pate and 3 percent each for Jake Porter and Spencer Highland. (Porter, a Libertarian, received about 3 percent of the statewide vote in the 2010 secretary of state race.)

PPP found State Auditor Mary Mosiman leading her Democratic challenger by 46 percent to 41 percent. State Treasurer Mike Fitzgerald is ahead of his Republican challenger Sam Clovis by 48 percent to 38 percent, with Libertarian Keith Laube pulling 5 percent. Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey has a comfortable 51 percent to 33 percent lead over Democrat Sherrie Taha, with a minor-party candidate pulling 5 percent. Finally, Attorney General Tom Miller leads Republican Adam Gregg by 55 percent to 36 percent.

While canvassing in Windsor Heights and Clive on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, I didn’t see any Republicans knocking on doors, nor did I see Republican campaign literature on doorknobs or front porches. Another Democratic canvasser in a different part of the state had a similar experience. I would like to hear from Bleeding Heartland readers about what you’ve seen of the Republican “ground game” during the final days. As far as I can tell, the GOP has relied mainly on robocalls and perhaps live-caller phone-banking. Republicans paid for many robocalls in the final days.

Speaking of robocalls, many Democratic households in the third Congressional district (including mine) received a call Monday evening recorded by Senator Chuck Grassley, making the case for David Young.

Any comments related to today’s election are welcome in this thread.

P.S. – A testy exchange with a reporter about how President Barack Obama has handled the ebola outbreak underscored why Joni Ernst’s handlers didn’t want her sitting down with most Iowa newspaper editorial boards.

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Shorter Mary Mosiman: Not my job to look for fraud

State Auditor Mary Mosiman, who in her previous job stood by and watched other people collect salaries for doing no work, has doubled down on her defense of the status quo in state auditing procedures.

Highlights from Thomas Geyer’s report for the Quad-City Times are after the jump, along with state auditor candidate Jon Neiderbach’s reaction to the incumbent’s “reckless comments.”

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